Innovative implementation of effective team teaching strategies typically results in higher reading, math and science scores at the elementary school level.

Now, thanks to a generous sponsorship from the Worthy Lands Trust, the Lee County Education Foundation will reward elementary teams within Lee County Schools whose teaching teams’ students showed exceptional success and growth in the 2021-22 school year.

McSwain Elementary Team Teaching Awards — which include a financial reward — will be given to teaching teams in reading (K-5th grade), math (3rd-5th grade) and science (5th grade) in a ceremony planned for December. In addition to recognition and the financial incentive, winning teams will share a presentation outlining strategies they used to generate the results.

The intent, according to LCEF Chairperson Susan Keller, is to recognize innovative teachers and teaching teams and promote best practices that have created strong student performance.

“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been immense on our students and teachers,” Keller said in announcing the initiative. “Teachers have had to pivot and investigate and implement new strategies to be effective with their students in this changing environment. We are so happy to have a chance to shine a spotlight on the teachers and strategies that are truly working in today’s world and raising the bar for student success.”

Winning teaching teams will be determined using data supplied by Lee County Schools, including student proficiency, growth and socioeconomic factors. In addition to the recognition and incentive, all teachers and teaching teams within LCS can learn effective and innovative implementations of strategies — then utilize those for their own students.

“LCEF is so grateful for the support of the Worthy Land Trust, which allows us to expand our impact and introduce this new award,” Keller said.

The Worthy Lands Trust has partnered with the foundation the last two years in providing matching $150,000 in COVID relief grant funding distributed among each of Lee County’s elementary, middle and high schools, plus Lee Early College.

“Recognizing teacher teams that have markedly moved the needle as far as student success directly aligns with our mission of empowering educators and moving futures forward,” Keller said. “Giving these successful teams the opportunity and platform with which to share their strategies with other educators adds the extra benefit of improving instruction for many students across the system.”

The Lee County Education Foundation’s vision is to help create an outstanding public school system that graduates students well prepared for the 21st century workplace and success in life. Formed in June 2003, the foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization managed by a 16-member board of directors. It has provided more than $1 million in financial support to Lee County Schools.

“We appreciate community partners like the Worthy Lands Trust,” Keller said. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with them and others as we tackle the task of improving education and workforce readiness in our growing community.”